Educatio Darthur Essay, Research Paper
Educatio Darthur (The Education of Arthur)
Arthurian legends depict the lives and customs of fifth century life. T.H. White s The Once and Future King portrays King Arthur in his boyhood as Wart. The education of Wart relies on the teachings of Merlyn and the six transformations that Wart goes through.
The ants teach Wart about war, while the geese teach Wart about peace and cooperation. Immediately after Wart enters the ant colony, he learns that things are very different as an ant. There is a single leader of the ants, the Queen, and she is the only thinking individually in the whole nest. She manipulates all the ants. Each ant has a specific task, which it completes repeatedly. When an ant from the neighboring nest wonders over on to their land, the Queen sees this as a threat to her nest and immediately wages war. The geese, on the other hand, are a very peaceful race that never kills. There is a leader to the group called The Admiral. He guides them on their flight south for the winter. He is only elected if all the geese in the migration group agreed he is capable of doing the job. During the flight the geese obey his commands, since he is the leader they elected to trust. When Wart meets a goose named Lyo-lyok she tells him, There are no boundaries among the geese (White 170). She explains to Wart that, even though The Admiral navigates them on their long journey, they still have shared power, and they never fight. Lyo-lyok tries to explain to Wart that all species can live in harmony, but that is a rather hard concept for Wart to grasp.
The owl teaches Wart respect for other animals, and the fish tries to persuade Wart that power yields the right to anything. As an owl, Archimedes takes Wart under his wings in hopes of teaching Wart a thing or two about power and respect for all living things. Archimedes informs Wart that no owl kills any other animal for pleasure, only necessity. Instead of hunting, Wart learns the pleasures of flight. As a fish both Wart and Merlyn proceed to meet the largest fish in the moat out side of Sir Ector s Castle, Mr. P. Merlyn tells Wart, You will see what it is to be king, because Mr. P is the monarch of the castle moat (51). In a speech about power, he tells Wart Might is Right, and might of the body is greater than might of the mind. Because of the way the fish-monarch rules, his subjects obey him out of fear for their lives. Wart experiences this firsthand when the fish-king tells him to leave. He has grown bored of Wart, and if Wart does not leave he will eaten him. The king uses his size as his claim to power; therefore, his subjects follow him out of fear.
The badger teaches Wart about appreciating what he has, and the Merlin shows Wart the hierarchy of military and respect of elders. When Wart visits the badger, a great philosopher, he receives many commentaries on values and morals. While Wart is visiting him, the badger explains a story he has written on the creation of the animal kingdom’s hierarchy. In his story he explains how man answered God’s riddle and is awarded control over the animal kingdom. Other animals listen and respect him because he is a wise scholar. The badger lives a life of solitude because the other animals do not think at his level and can not understand how he thinks. The badger tells Wart, Well, I can only teach you two things to dig, and to love your home (188). In the mews, all of the birds have a military rank. Their leader, the old falcon, is the honorary colonel. The old falcon quizzes Wart, and makes him think on his feet. The entire time Wart is in the mews he is constantly thinking strategy and using his brain to give the birds the answers that they want to hear. When it comes down to the final challenge of standing next to Cully, Wart uses his quick reflexes and brains to get away as fast as he can as soon as the third bell rings.
Through each of Wart s transformations, Wart sees different types and uses of power, along with qualities and traits of natural leaders. With everything that Wart learns he must choose how he will eventually govern his kingdom. The leaders he visits rule in their own way and each retain and exercise their power through different methods, while they teach Wart valuable lessons in how to rule. T. H. White brought forth this image of an honorable leader using all of Wart’s transformations as one boy grows up.